We've cruised 25 times, mostly with Royal Caribbean, Celelebrity, Princess, Holland, and Costa.
We just got off the Atlantica, last week and had a great time. Yes, the food was dissapointing. We stopped eating our meals in the ships diningroom many years ago. No matter what ship you're on, it takes up too much time to get in and out. I figure on a 7 day cruise, that's about 10-12 EXTRA hours spent either "dressing up" for dinner and the extra time it takes to get served. So, I can not give a review of the food served in the diningroom. We ate all our meals at the buffet and one meal in the specialty diningroom, which by the way was not worht the extra $$. The problem with the food was not necessarily the quality, although it could have been better, it was the choices and lack of them. If you're concered about the food, my suggestion would be to eat more food during breakfast and lunch and a have a light dnner. At lunch you can always get burgers and Tex-Mex. Desserts were the biggest dissapointment so bring a box of your favorite cookies to snack on.
The entertainment was the best we've seen in a LONG time. Our cruise director Andrea, was incredible, which was something we haven't experienced in a long time. I wouldn't say the staff was rude, however, I found them to be unqualified poorly trained and managed. They were in a fog. Not so for the officers, cabin stewards and people at the pursers/service deck. My problem was mostly with food service personnel.
Cruising Italian style it was not!
There were so many positives that they outweighed the negative. Regarding our fellow passengers. I too was concerened about them being pushiy and rude. Not so. The majority of passengers were Americans and a good amount of them were Italians traveling with their families, speaking Italian. I never experienced any pushing or inconsideration on their part. I live in a big city and am used to interacting with various ethnic groups. If you are not and are sensitive to hearing forgein languages spoken, you might become disturbed. Don't let it bother you.
The Atlantica was a beautiful ship. Upon boarding I was taken back by the decor. It is colorful, shiny, happy, and over the top, in a good way. The ship was IMMACULATE in every area. Our cabin steward was on the ball and did a great job.
We've learned after 25 cruises, that no ship is perfect. We prefer smaller ships where you actually feel like you're sailing and not in a floating hotel. We tried the mega ships, twice...never agian. It's not for us, but we understand others love it. In 1985, when we sailed for the first time, we paid twice as much for a seven day cruise than we do now. No matter, the food, entertainment, staff or passengers, I feel you're getting more than you're moneys worth for 7 days of transportaton, lodging, entertainment and food.
We'll be back on Costa, but next time, prepared for the food and a box of my favoirte cookies in hand, maybe two to share.